Friday, February 25, 2005

Another hijack

This week the EU parliament approved plans for a standard EU driving license, aimed at replacing the 110 different permits in use across the EU, with Jacques "Wheel" Barrot, the EU transport commissioner, claiming that this new license, with anti-falsification measures, would help prevent fraud and thus improve road safety

Elsewhere, on its website, the commission claims that the move to a standard licence is governed by two major principles: to facilitate the free movement of the citizens of the Community and contribute to the improvement of road traffic safety.

And therein is yet another big lie. While there is some utility in having mutual recognition of driving licenses throughout the member states, with harmonisation of technical standards (but why stop at the EU?) the specific rationale for having a "EU model" license, emblazoned with its ring of stars, has nothing to do with fraud, road safety or freedom of movement.

The concept of the standard European driving license stems entirely from a report written by Italian MEP Pietro Adonnino, in 1985 for the Milan Council, entitled "A Peoples' Europe".

The whole purpose of the report was to recommend ways of developing a "European identity", to which effect Adonnino came up with a number of ideas.

Perhaps the most significant was that the European Community should have its own flag and its own anthem, "to be played at appropriate events and ceremonies".

He also recommended a "Community passport" to replace national passports and other "concrete measures" to encourage "the people of Europe" to feel a sense of common identity, ranging from a "Europe-wide lottery" to an emergency health card, entitling them to medical assistance in any member state.

To this he added the idea that the Community should take over the long-established practice of "town twinning", dating back to the Second World War, and use it to promote the idea of "European union", and that "European" sports teams should compete in international events, wearing the "ring of stars" rather than national symbols. This would be adopted a few years later by the "European" golf team competing against the USA for the Ryder Cup.

His driving licence proposal was originally scheduled for adoption by 1 January 1986, and while a standard "Community model" driving licence had been set up in an earlier directive (80/1263/EEC), and modified by 91/439/EEC, it has not yet been made compulsory for member states.

Now, all that is to change. Adonnino's recommendation is finally to come to fruition, the primary purpose of which is to promote in the "people of Europe" a sense of common identity.

Thus does the EU take a basically good idea, pervert it, distort it and hijack it for its own political ends.

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